I don't often talk about lady topics here. I mean, I do talk about feelings, which most men would classify as lady topics, and I guess I have also talked about wedding planning and Sex and the City... so maybe I do. But here, I mean LADY topics. As in, contraception. The closest I've come is when I discussed bra fitting, which is really a public service announcement, and also, no men read this, so who cares.
(bra fitting post found HERE.)
So, anyhow, here's a lady topic. I recently had to have my IUD replaced. I have the Mirena. It's a small T-shaped device placed in your uterus to prevent pregnancy. Since I have two teenagers, preventing pregnancy is a topic ever present in my mind. It's hard, having teenagers. And also, having babies and toddlers and preschoolers and all those other stages.
The path to having this procedure done has been filled with sadness and fear. Let me explain why.
It started at one of my routine visits to the OB/GYN after the first IUD was placed. The strings that they use to remove it had been 'retracted' inside my uterus by my apparently objectionable body, which makes removal more difficult. At that visit, the healthcare professional made one of those faces that is like, "ehhhhh.... well...." with a grimace, when I asked what would be required to remove it. She then told me just to wait to worry until I came to that point, still a few years down the road, since they last for 5 years.
Then, I switched to a new doctor. I only had a year left, so I knew the next time I saw her, it would be time to replace. She explained the process-- she told me she'd prescribe me pain killers and either valium or Xanax, two things I've never taken and scare me, but apparently help with anxiety, before my appointment. This clearly made me more scared, since the original one required no medications.
So, the year I'd dreaded arrived. I went to my annual appointment, and my doctor was gone delivering babies, so I saw a nurse practitioner. She delivered worse news.
She confirmed that the procedure would be more difficult. She also told me something else, that made me wonder if I'd accidentally stepped in a time machine and traveled to 1947.
My new doctor's office was at St. Vincent's hospital, which is a Catholic institution. I'm not Catholic, but I'm a Christian, and I'm fairly familiar with their practices. I know that some Catholics don't practice contraception, but I thought that was reserved for the more devout people, not the general population. Apparently, that's something they hold so dear that the ENTIRE HOSPITAL is not allowed to actually implement real contraception on their grounds in any way. They can prescribe you pills because you actually use them off the hospital property. But things that are permanent, to prevent pregnancy, like tubal ligation (tying your tubes) or IUDs are not allowed.
Not allowed! I'm a married woman with two nearly-grown children, practicing family planning, and was made to feel like a terrible sinner. I was told that my doctor would do the procedure, but she would see me to do this (Xanax-requiring procedure) offsite at a Chiropractor's office down the street.
So, now it feels like I'm getting an illegal, immoral, secret procedure done. In probably (maybe...) an unsafe setting. It's 2014, you guys. We were considering a female president recently.
I asked around, and friends recommended other doctors, but time was running out, so I decided to just go with the creepy Chiropractor option and get this thing taken care of and then I could switch.
I made my appointment. I made my husband take the day off work to drive me, since I expected to be drugged up on anxiety meds and to be in immense pain. The day approached, and I received a letter including three prescriptions.
The day of, I pulled out the prescriptions to get them filled- since I thought they were just for pain afterward and anxiety just before. But I noticed that I didn't recognize the medications on the forms. I did a quick google search, and found out NONE were for anxiety, but one was for pain and another was something they apparently prescribe as a part of abortion meds. Now, I needed the anxiety meds more than ever. Turns out, the 'abortion' one also is really for dilating your cervix, something needed to retrieve the old IUD. AND I was supposed to start it the day before.
After a call to the doctor, they tell me to take it now, even though I didn't have the full dosage.
At this point, I am worried that my cervix is going to cause me more pain since I didn't have the proper medication dosage, scared of the Chiropractor's office and what would happen if there were complications and I wasn't in a real medical environment, and having second thoughts about NOT asking why I didn't get anxiety meds.
Somewhat comforting was the fact that it was actually a urology office in close proximity to the hospital. Not comforting was the fact that my doctor was running an hour behind and I had more time to build anxiety.
While waiting, I decided to use the bathroom, which turned out to be a mistake, because they needed a urine sample for a pregnancy test before the procedure, requiring me to chug large amounts of water and add worry that I wouldn't be able to pee.
Finally, I am displayed up on the table, stirrups and all, blood pressure through the roof due to my lack of anxiety meds (which I was CURSING myself for not asking about) and prepared for the worst. After all, the first placement I had was quite painful, and this was supposed to be much worse.
The doctor tells me she is going to use a local anesthetic, which she says most doctors don't do, but she feels is not very nice. Now, I'm anxious about a needle in my lady parts. Panic attack begins.
SURPRISE! I don't feel the needle! Then, the procedure was about the same amount of painful as a routine pap.
I walked out, a little dizzy from the anesthetic, but otherwise feeling just fine. As usual, a lot of buildup and anxiety in my mind over what turns out to be basically nothing. Matt and I went to the Cheesecake Factory for a dinner to celebrate my female reproductive rights and the confirmation of our "no babies" reproductive plan.
Because, if I had this much anxiety over this procedure, could you IMAGINE me now anticipating labor???
God knew I wouldn't be able to handle that in my 30's which is why he gave me my children before my anxieties grew to this level.
This post is dedicated to my friend Allison. Just because of my desire to tell her this story, but with the lack of time to do so.